The Beatles: Rock Band Review

Yes, Harmonix promised to do “something different” with The Beatles: Rock Band. And yes, it’s still readily recognizable as a Rock Band game. But honestly, people, what did you expect? An open-world sandbox where you design shirts to help make ends meet as you struggle to become a musician?

The Beatles: Rock Band is, in my opinion, as perfect as a Rock Band game can possibly get from a presentation point of view. Undoubtedly a game that will cross boundaries and be accepted mainstream like few games before it, the music is obviously what makes Beatles: Rock Band such a pop cultural phenomenon; but it’s the incredible presentation of each song, and the way that The Beatles’ story is crafted with entertaining videos, that take it to a level beyond what it is at face value.

If you’ve ever played Guitar Hero or Rock Band games before, you probably won’t find any challenge in the Beatles version. With only a few songs here and there difficult for any single instrument, it’s rare to run into “must rock out to stay alive!’ moments like you do in the latter tiers of regular Rock Band games. And, unlike regular Rock Band games, the progression of songs isn’t by difficulty; it follows the path of the Beatles’ real music. So is it as challenging? No. Is it a great change of pace and a unique take on the single player Rock Band experience? Definitely.

Outside of the between-sets videos, one new aspect has been introduced to the Rock Band franchise in this game: three-part harmonies. By hooking up three mics, you can sing with two other players, making it a great experience. It’s not fully fleshed out — for example, at times you can all sing the same part — but it’s a great addition, and I look forward to it (or a similar function) being utilized in the next full Rock Band title.

But, once again, this game isn’t about the gameplay mechanics; you know exactly what you’re getting there. What it’s about is experiencing the Beatles in a way no one ever has before — sans some blokes who happened to be in the band, that is.

For our generation (and the one before it), The Beatles rise to fame was the stuff of legend, or grainy film archives. It wasn’t until this game came out that we got more of a glimpse into just how they got from playing in small bars, to playing in sold-out arenas, to not playing live at all because it was taking away from the music. Through the intro videos and the great presentations and animations in the background of each song, it’s easier to experience the most important band in rock, as those who were there did.

Even during the Abbey Road years, Harmonix attempted to let us experience their music visually via Dreamscapes. It starts out showing the four singing in the recording studio, then branches off into progressively weirder dream-like sequences, since watching them record a ton of songs standing in a studio would be boring. (Even for hardcore Beatles fans, I’d wager.)

Whether you like them or not, there’s no denying how important The Beatles were — and continue to be — to music. Is their Rock Band game as important for games as some people make it out to be? Not quite. But, as far as the music genre goes, it’s definitely the best-made game on the market from a presentation standpoint, and it brings the usually-static music genre to a whole new level that others will try — and fail — to emulate. Oh, and the music itself is pretty damn good, too. Then again, you already knew that.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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